Reefs to Get Their Day in Court
Critical habitat is threatened for 12 coral species in Florida, the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean, while all corals worldwide are experiencing dramatic declines due to the impacts of climate change, pollution and overfishing. The Center for Biological Diversity, a Tucson-based nonprofit focused on species protection, intends to file a lawsuit against the federal government for failing to protect coral habitat as required under the Endangered Species Act. Benefits of securing a critical habitat designation from the National Marine Fisheries Service include improved water quality throughout the coastal zone, limits on overfishing, protection of spawning grounds, reduced impact from development and dredging, and reduced human pressures on thousands of species that inhabit the reefs. Nearly 30 percent of all corals have already been lost to warming ocean temperatures and ocean acidification due to greenhouse gas pollution; scientists predict that the rest could be gone by the end of the century without help.
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This article appears in the August 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings.